Generating news coverage is a critical aspect of the public relations industry. In order to garner attention for your event, pitching your story to the media is crucial. News directors, bookers, and reporters get many different news stories from across the nation each day, so what can you do to capture their attention and alert them to your story?

Pitching to the media can be stressful. No one likes cold calling strangers, especially when it is imperative that you are successful. However, if you go in with a plan, this process becomes much less painful.

When calling, follow these guidelines in order to set yourself up for more success:

Know your story

This is one of the most important aspects of pitching your story. It’s impossible to successfully sell your story if you are not comfortable with every aspect of it. Before calling, you should know the basics of the story: who, what, when, where, why, and how. While this may seem simplistic, this is how you can capture the media’s attention by knowing the most important aspects of your story and selling them on it.

Research Before

Before you begin making calls, do your research. Once you feel comfortable with your story, do some extra research on the media outlets you are calling. This means looking at who in the organization is the best to call, what type of stories do they report on, and who their audience is. These are important aspects because you can change your pitch depending on who you are talking to. Some parts of the story will be more intriguing for some audiences, so knowing who their audience is can help tailor your pitch to have the most impact.

Confidence

Confidence is what can separate you from the other people trying to sell their story. Regardless of the story, if you are confident and straightforward, you will have a better opportunity with securing your news story. This confidence can stem from being comfortable and knowledgeable about the story you are trying to pitch.

Don’t put yourself in a corner

Once you have gone through your pitch and it comes time to see if the person is interested, limit their options. Posing yes or no questions will limit your options. By saying “Are you interested in scheduling an interview?” you are leaving them the option to say no. However, saying “What time is best for you to schedule an interview?” makes it more difficult for them to turn you down, and can lead to them scheduling an interview.

Pitching to the media can be tedious and disheartening. Sometimes you will get shut down more often than accepted. However, this is an extremely important aspect of public relations and can result in great coverage for your story.


   

How to Get a Job in PR: Part 3

Step 3: Make a Phone Call

If you are like me, you dread phone calls, especially with people you don’t know. However, making calls is an essential part of PR and of a job search. When you make an unsolicited phone call to a company or a person in order to pitch them something, that is a cold-call. A cold-call is a job search technique through which many people find success.

Before you make a cold call, you need to know who to contact. The contact depends on your current rank. If you are currently at an entry level job, a cold call to the CEO may be a little ambitious. However, if you are already in a higher position, calling someone beneath the job you are pursuing may not help you either. Once you know what kind of individual to call, figure out who they are. Do not call and ask for that person by title. A great resource for finding a person in a particular position is LinkedIn.

The next step is creating dialogue. When you begin speaking, even in a cover letter or an interview, talk about what you can do for them. Be confident in the skills you have to offer them. After that intro, begin speaking to your proof and sell yourself. Pick out some quantifiable bullets points from your resume to talk about over the phone. This is the part where you reemphasize that this will be mutually beneficial for you and the company.

This is not an interview and they will not be expecting your call, so keep it short and sweet. You may even ask for an opportunity to talk longer at a later date. Before hanging up, recap your skills and highlight your accomplishments quickly to keep this information fresh in their mind.

After the call you may want to update your resume to tailor it to the skills and accomplishments you talked about the most or to what skills the interviewer seemed the most interested in.


   

How to Get a Job in PR: Part 2

Step 2: Send a Personal Letter

Personal letters are similar to cover letters, but they are not interchangeable. A personal letter, sometimes called an inquiry, allows you to handpick the companies you would want to work for and tell them you are looking for a job. Keep in mind, you don’t need a job posting to send a personal letter.

Things you should include in your personal letter are:

  • A contact and company

It is critical to keep in mind that “Dear Sir or Madame” or “To Whom It May Concern” is not a contact for a company. Employers or hiring personnel are looking for your personal letter to address a person within that company. Finding a contact for a personal letter is easier than ever before because of the resources we have at our fingertips. Use resources like the company’s website or LinkedIn to find the hiring manager or human resources person to whom you will address your letter. If necessary, call the company and ask for the correct person to address in your letter.

It should look something like this:

Scott Treibitz
President
Tricom Associates

1750 New York Avenue NW, 3rd Floor

Washington, D.C. 20006

Dear Mr. Treibitz,

In the case of a smaller company, such as Tricom, there may not be a human resources director or hiring manager.

  • Information about the company

Do your homework! Employers expect you to know about their company if you are claiming you want to work there. Look up their mission statement, their goals, their products/services and their employees. What do they do? Where are they going? How do your goals and skills align with the company?

  • Introduction of accomplishments and interest

No one is going to brag for you. If you want your accomplishments and skills to be known, you have to talk about them. Talk about how you are qualified and can apply your skills to the job you want. However, avoid becoming too brash by putting down other candidates or companies.

  • A polite request for a follow-up meeting or phone call
  • Thank the reader for taking the time to look at your letter
  • Your signature

If you are sending the letter via mail, sign your name with a pen above your name typed below the body of the copy. If you are sending the letter via email, then use a legible calligraphy font to type in the manuscript above your name.

  • Your resume as an attachment

Lastly, use a professional envelope and stamp if you are mailing your letter.



   

Working in public relations is hard work. It isn’t always a nine to five job. You could work 24/7 and never catch up on your work. That being said, finding a job in Public Relations can be just as difficult as the work itself. For public relations specialists there are about 218,910 non self-employed jobs with an outlook of an additional 15,000 within the next 8 years.

When looking for a job, especially in public relations, you need to consider job searching techniques to get ahead. Increasing your knowledge in career and professional development will help anyone with their job search. The following steps will aid you in your journey for a public relations position.

Step 1: Find a referral

Referrals consist of 6.9 percent of applicants, but make up 46 percent of all workers hired. The employee retention rate for referrals after two years is 45 percent; it’s 20 percent for job boards after two years.

Many job seekers are put off by referrals because they are intimidated by asking or they don’t know who to ask. Searching for a referral can be done on LinkedIn, Career Sonar or StartWire. Look at current employee’s connections for common connections. Then ask your common connection for a referral to that employee. You may also consider asking any employee, client, vendor or others who work with the organization for a referral.

Knowing how to ask for a referral is important. A good referral includes someone who can address your work ethic and the quality of your work or personality. Some questions you could ask a potential referral are:

“Do you feel you could reflect on my work sufficiently to refer me to a job at your organization?”

“Would you consider giving me a referral to your organization?”

After you secure a referral, remember to mention that referral in your cover letter or letter of interest. Additionally, provide your referral with an up-to-date resume to look over before speaking with the hiring manager. Upon completion of the referral or interview, send the person who gave your referral a thank you letter to let them know you appreciated their help.


Check out PRticles next week for more tips!


   

Tags